Encounter with Jesus on the moon left astronaut changed


By Mark Ellis —

In the rounded gray Apennine mountains of the moon, Apollo 15 astronaut James Irwin had an encounter with God he would never forget. Irwin was the eighth man to walk on the moon and the first to ride in the Lunar Rover. Apollo 15 was a ‘J-Mission,’ which meant he and fellow astronaut David Scott spent an extended period on the lunar surface – almost three days, where they collected 170 pounds of geologic material including the famous “Genesis Rock.”

James Irwin on the moon
James Irwin on the moon

Scientists believe the rock dates back to the time the original lunar crust was formed, which they estimate at 4.5 billion years. “It was remarkable,” Irwin commented later. “It was sitting on a pedestal rock almost free from dust. It seemed to be saying, ‘Here I am, take me.’”

Irwin and Scott worked for an extended period with little rest prior to their liftoff. “Apparently, when Jim was suiting up his water tube kinked so he wasn’t able to get any water,” recalls Mary Irwin, his wife.

Outside their spacesuits, the temperature on the lunar surface was 150 degrees. “He perspired like crazy,” Mary says. “He was losing his electrolyte balance. An imbalance of sodium and potassium can trigger a heart attack,” she notes.

While Irwin did not suffer a heart attack, flight surgeons on earth who monitored the men were alarmed when they saw both astronauts develop irregular heart rhythms.

Irwin’s situation was more severe, with abnormal heartbeats every other beat. Neither man was told about their condition by Mission Control. Flight surgeons reasoned they were already getting 100 percent oxygen, they had continuous monitoring of their vital signs, and they were at zero gravity – conditions that partially replicated or even exceeded an ICU unit back on earth.

NASA also had concerns about wider dissemination of this sensitive health information. “If doctors said something and it was on the loop, who knows who would have leaked that to the press,” Mary notes. “They didn’t need that kind of situation terrifying people.”

As Irwin moved about the lunar surface, apparently unaware of his precarious health situation, he was struck by the size of the earth – about the size of his thumbnail.

“I was just amazed to see the earth,” he said. “It reminded me of a Christmas tree ornament – a very fragile one, hanging majestically in space. It was very touching to see earth from that perspective.”

At one point, Irwin had trouble with a planned experiment. “He was erecting an experiment that wouldn’t erect, due to a cotter pin or something of that nature,” Mary recalls.

Frustrated in his attempts to get the experiment to work, Irwin decided he would pray.

While raised in a Christian home – and a believer and churchgoer since age 10, he was a nominal Christian at this stage of his life. “Maybe he walked away from his walk with the Lord a little,” Mary suggests. “He described himself as a ‘bump on a log Christian.’”

But he really needed wisdom due to this problem and he said, “God I need your help right now.”

Suddenly Irwin experienced the presence of Jesus Christ in a remarkable way, unlike anything he ever felt on earth. “The Lord showed him the solution to the problem and the experiment erected before him like a little altar,” Mary says.

“He was so overwhelmed at seeing and feeling God’s presence so close,” she says. “At one point he turned around and looked over his shoulder as if He was standing there.”

This unusual encounter with Jesus – some 238,000 miles from earth, changed Irwin’s life forever.

After his return from the moon, Irwin rode in a ticker tape parade through the streets of New York. “There were thousands of people lining the street and he was trying to see all their faces,” Mary recalls. “God dropped it in his heart that he had a responsibility to mankind to share Jesus with everyone after that.”

Like other men in church history who have experienced dramatic encounters with God, the result was an increased power to witness for Jesus Christ, a confidence and boldness that fueled his passion to become an emissary for Jesus Christ to the nations.

Within a year of Irwin’s return from space, he resigned from NASA and formed High Flight Foundation, which is on a quest to reach the world as “goodwill ambassadors for the Prince of Peace.”

“God decided that He would send His Son Jesus Christ to the blue planet,” Irwin said, “and it’s through faith in Jesus Christ that we can relate to God. Jesus Himself said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes unto the Father except through me.’

“As I travel around I tell people the answer is Jesus Christ, that Jesus walking on the earth is more important than man walking on the moon.”

For two decades, Irwin traveled the world and presented small flags he carried from the moon to the leaders of various countries. “These flags were so powerful,” says Bill Dodder, a close friend to Irwin. “He took flags to each country as a means to witness for Jesus Christ.”

Dodder traveled with Irwin on several expeditions to Mt. Ararat in search of Noah’s Ark. “We ran the Great Wall of China together,” Dodder recalls.

Irwin continued to suffer heart problems after he left the space program. On the 20th anniversary of the Apollo 15 mission, he spoke in Aspen, Colorado. The next day he took a long bicycle ride to the Maroon Bells near Aspen. After the ride, he collapsed due to a massive heart attack and went to live forever with the God he loved – the same one he encountered on the surface of the moon.

It is ironic, perhaps, that his heavenly homecoming was within hours of the 20th anniversary of his earthly homecoming from the moon.

Dodder was with Irwin on the day he passed away. “The day before he died he said, ‘All I want to do is be faithful.’”

If you would like to know more about a personal relationship with God, go here


  1. To not be able to marvel at God’s creation even while you’re in space is downright Spoiled and ungrateful. Unfortunately, too many self described people of science reject the miracle of creation by turning to what in their mind seems more logical. Fortunately for us tho we’ve got these good men who in my opinion are history makers for not just going to space, but going to space and still holding The Lord close after!

    • Didn’t spell Jupiter correctly, improper grammar throughout, ignorantly insults people of opposing belief systems…

      • So… do you think other belief systems care if they offend people christianity is one of the most persecuted beliefs and we don’t mind it we embrace it as as Jesus Christ embraced it. If you don’t like it turn away. Unless a person hates love I don’t see how it could offend any one. Also very great people in history have had problem with education look at albert einstin. Don’t be so rude. God bless

  2. Rhys, FYI – Jesus is omnipotent. He would not require oxygen on the moon.
    Read the bible in the new testament about the story of Jesus walking on the water during a storm while his disciples were fishing. Be amazed by the glory of God and continue to be a believer. Peace be with you.

  3. The idea someone could suffer some sort of hypoxia-induced psychosis and have a religious experience is a bit far fetched. Why not a little green man experience? The reality is this otherwise highly intelligent man had a concrete experience of Jesus Christ that changed his
    life forever. Astronauts aren’t ordinary humans. They are phd qualified uberfreaks that can understand the difference between logic and emotion to a high degree, especially when ‘they are at work’. This suggests something incredibly powerful and convincing.

    • Who do you think comprise the faculty at BYU? Hint: PhD qualifications aren’t remotely enough to get a person to stop following obvious nonsense.

  4. I was in shock & upset to learn my newborn grandson was taken away from his parents who were using OxyContin during pregnancy. I was given temporary custody of my beautiful grandson who I loved very deeply. I was so emotionally upset about his hopeless situation, I cried out late one night, ” God if you exist, I need to know”. He answered me. He actually answered me!!! I can attempt to explain it by saying it was a electrifying, energizing, most incredible experience I had ever had in my entire life! Our great God choose to fill me with hope. I am also happy to report my daughter is drug free! Thank you, God! Call out for God/Jesus with all your soul & he will answer!

    • Praise God Terri. My husband and I tried for 2 years to get concieve. We knew it would be difficult due to my medication, though my cancers were in remission, and the meds shouldn’t have any effect, things still happen, as they did for us. 2 days before I was going to deliver our baby, she passed away inside me. This was the pain of all pains, and I still had to birth/deliver this baby. If any reason to hate God, it was then. Something we tried so hard for, waited so long with no problems through pregnancy I cried out…Why?! How could you do this to me. I was tattered and torn with a severely broken heart. However in that moment of anger and raising my fist to him, God revealed Himself to me through a woman I did not know and never saw again. She appearantly was a nurse at the hospital, but not one of my nurses, and she came I to my hospital room, came to my bedside as I was sobbing, she put her amazingly warm hands on my cheeks and lifted my face up, and said ” You know, sometimes there are babies that are just too precious and special to live in our sin filled world. He just takes them a little early and saves them for the day you see them again. Until then, she is waiting, holding the right hand of Jesus. You will see her again, I promise. ” that was it, same time as she turned and walked out of the room, the most amazing peace came over me, tears stopped flowing, I was warm (I’m never warm. That’s why it was amazing) I didn’t see her again, didnt know who she was, the other nurses who I asked who she was didn’t seem to know who I was talking about, even as I described her down to the scrubs she had on, no one knew her. I didn’t know her then, but I know her now, and she was an angel, sent by God to show me and tell me he’s got our baby, she’s just fine and I WILL see her again. This was just over a year ago, Feb 26th 2015 to be exact. The day I said Hello, goodbye, and see you soon to our baby girl. It still hurts, I still cry, but I’m human. My faith, my walk, my desire to be close to him is stronger than ever, and I get called to come and visit with women in that same hospital, who lose their babies. He is using me as a beacon to share His light and Love. He is using you too Terri. I will keep you and your daughter lifted in prayer. God Bless.

  5. One may not believe a person’s personal experience with God, but neither can they deny that it happened. Lots of science can be logically explained, but remain invisible such as electricity, the wind. We see evidence of those things and we certainly saw the evidence of Irwin’s experience in his life after the trip.

  6. I did not know Jesus was so willing to help with science experiments. I thought he saved his miracles for stopping natural disasters and the like. Now I know this, I’m getting the Prince of Peace to do all my work. #Blessed

    • Charlotte, as you read above, this astronaut was alone in the Moon, quite far from home. Jesus has helped people in distress, in a shipwreck or an earthquake… in very difficult situations. That doesn’t mean Jesus is going to do your daily tasks at work or at home. People like you easily make funny remarks about Jesus. For those who don’t believe in God is very easy to mock at Him. However, people around the world don’t dare to mock at Mahoma for fearing deadly retailating actions. But

  7. Apollo 15 Lunar Module pilot Jim Irwin WAS A RELIGIOUS (FUNDAMENTALIST) CHRISTIAN (WAY, WAY, WAY,–BEFORE) he ever became a NASA Astronaut (in the first place)!!! SO: he (ALREADY) had his (what I–as a RATIONAL-ATHEIST MYSELF– call CRAZY, religious beliefs) LONG-BEFORE his Apollo lunar mission!!! Secondly: HE (Irwin) was a “CREATIONIST”–and that fact “FREAKS ME OUT” (emensely) because he (Irwin) SHOULD have know main-stream SCIENCE (as an astronaut), which includes DARWINIAN-EVOLUTION, (and the 4.6 Billion Year-old Earth–and Solar System)! SO: James Irwin was the MOST INSANE and NUTTY astronaut to have walked on the Moon!!! And, finally, “NEITHER ‘God’ nor ‘Jesus’ actually “appeared to him” on the Moon–as it was (in fact) “ALL IN HIS SICK, SICK, Christian mind)!!! Sincerely, Bill Wise.

  8. My prayer is for all who are blinded to spiritual truth. Lord may you open their eyes to your glory and majesty before it is too late and they stand before you to give an account. May those who have been deceived by the great deceiver receive your grace that allows the scales to fall from their eyes and to be able to see the risen, living Lord Jesus Christ, maker of heaven and earth in all His fullness and glory! Amen.

  9. At least the only real holy book on another planet is the bible. Enough said. No rubbish about other so called religions, and cults, of the 21st century.

  10. Dear Bill Wise: you clearly are NOT very wise at all. If anything, I respect agnostics some: at least they admit they simply don’t know. They don’t know, the same way you don’t know. Those of us who DO believe, won’t be able to describe it to you. Only God chooses who to reveal himself to. And I feel sorry for you: because one day you will regret your rejection. And, it may be too late.

    I too, have experienced God’s (or Jesus’) presence with me. In at least 2 occasions. I couldn’t describe it to you any more than a woman can describe labor pains to a man… only another mom would understand. I hope and pray you find God soon. At least, try. It can’t hurt. Best to you.

  11. “Flight surgeons reasoned they were already getting 100 percent oxygen, they had continuous monitoring of their vital signs, and THEY WERE AT ZERO GRAVITY…”

    NO, they were at about 1/6th of Earth’s gravity. Add another 30lbs for the spacesuit which weighs 180lbs on Earth.

    These ecstatic experiences, which for Irwin had a strong Christian theme, are called the “Overview Effect” because they tend to occur during or after looking back at the Earth. Where Irwin founded the High Flight Foundation, Edgar Mitchell, the sixth man to walk on the moon, founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences after his ecstatic experience during the flight back to Earth. Mitchell compared his blissful episode to savikalpa Samadhi, a term related to yoga and meditation. These experiences seem to have a lot in common with ecstatic seizures, which occur in some persons with epilepsy. The experience of serene bliss, oneness, a sensed presence and conviction of divine agency is common, though not typically a visit with Jesus or a Biblical God.

    The conviction that others need to accept what you believe, to live happy, meaningful lives, and without it, they will be lost, evil and suffer forever, comes across as arrogant. What you call belief, is to you without doubt. It is joyful and true. So you are told to tell others, you want to tell others, since it is true and don’t we want to see the truth? And you graciously tolerate others who have doubts but take offense and condescending pity on those who reject Christianity with the same zeal you embrace it. Perhaps they see YOU the same way, except they are bombarded with Christianity directly and indirectly every day.

    You say, “Unless a person hates love, I don’t see how it could offend any one.” Really? Say that when their children suffer anxiety and nightmares after being told they are evil sinners and God will let them burn in hell if they don’t believe. You say, “People of science reject the miracle of creation by turning to what in their mind seems more logical.” You don’t understand how ignoring the multitude of evidence for religious stories is offensive. Consider if they wrote, “People of religion reject reason by turning to supernatural mythology which in their minds seems more comforting.” Compare. Do you see how you belittle people who aren’t Christians?

    How much more a majestic a God he would be if he didn’t let children suffer terminal diseases, he didn’t allow a hell to exist for humans, he had self-confidence that didn’t require continuous adoration, and he had the ability to simply forgive without need for having himself killed and turning it into a cult.

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